Continuing their streak of new apps for architects and designers, today Morpholio has released their latest work – a digital notebook known as “Journal.” An improvement to existing digital sketchbooks, Journal seeks to capture the day-to-day recording of ideas, inspiration, thoughts and recollections of an analog notebook as faithfully as possible. Unlike most digital sketchbooks, Journal allows users to combine the amalgamation of photos, images, hand sketches and drawings that a real journal might encompass, lending new material to the debate between digital versus analog. But could such an app ever really replace the role that analog journals have in the life of an architect? To find out, we spoke to the people of Morpholio about Journal and the future of digital and analog media.
"The significance of a designer’s sketchbook is it should hopefully be a catch-all for everything you want to remember. I keep photos, train tickets, notes, maps or found images as much as my own writing and sketches," explained Anna Kenoff, an architect and co-creator of Morpholio. "Most digital sketchbooks assume you only want to sketch on an empty canvas. Journaling is different and lets ideas come from a greater mixed media."
With a host of features, Journal seeks to emulate this mixed media experience as closely as possible – and then some. Users can sketch over anything, working onto any image or photo, and the drawing will move, rotate and scale with its accompanying photo. The turning of real pages is simulated, but with enough speed that the entire Journal is accessible to review in seconds. In addition calendar, notebook, grid and task-list templates make writing easy and legible, combining a digital medium with the physical sensation of writing.
But while recreating the analog experience was important in the creation of Journal, the app is also able to offer the convenience of digitization:
“One key item to Morpholio Journal is the architect's and designer's tool kit," said Joey Swerdlin, Community Director at Morpholio. "Morpholio Journal includes an architect's arsenal of pens, brushes and pencils including chisel markers, charcoal, and other rendering tools capable of reproducing the unique and special effects of these media that we rarely bother to pull out anymore, and certainly can't travel with every day. It also includes sixteen color palettes, created by award winning graphic designers at New York’s MTWTF to bring polish to your renderings.”
Of course, alongside these features designed to streamline experiences that are unwieldy in the physical world, some features of Journal are simply impossible to replicate in analog:
“There are many benefits the digital allows" said Toru Hasegawa, Co-creator of Morpholio. "Three come to mind: Zoom and Scale: I get frustrated when drawing on a physical paper that I can't zoom in to draw details or enlarge a photo. Infinity: it is impossible for me to carry around all of my old journals and the digital allows me to have them all the time. I now have one for travel, design and personal. and finally undo: if only life had an undo button sometimes. Thank goodness Journal does.”
Despite these clearly useful tools, there are some for whom the potential loss of their beloved paper sketchbook is an uncomfortable proposition. Fortunately for these people, Morpholio does not see it as their goal to make traditional, physical mediums obsolete, as Joey Swerdlin explains:
"Hopefully there will only be more analog journals as the ease of crossing digital and analog technologies will continue to develop until the line is fully blurred. Drawing on multiple surfaces will always be important and Morpholio Journal’s position is that digital drawing should be seen as contributor to the creative medium and not a replacement."
Still, when it comes to this symbiosis of the digital and the analog, Morpholio is not content to rest on their heels. On one hand their next project - still little more than a rumor at this point - involves a "game-changing collaboration" with Graphisoft, while on the other, they are already looking forward to what the next generation of hardware may bring to apps such as Journal:
"We love the feel of a textured surface over glass. The tactility of paper is not possible yet, but what haptic technology (the new touch pad) seems to hint is a more tactile future for touch surface," said Toru Hasegawa. "The goal of Morpholio Journal is actually to be as analog as possible and the beauty is all the things you do not see."
- Sketch on anything – with Journal, designs and drawings can be done over any other image, and the drawing will move, rotate and scale with its accompanying photo.
- Rapid fire viewing – an optimized page-turning interface simulates the turning of a real book, but with enough speed that the entire Journal is accessible to review in seconds.
- Designware – a built in set of media that would be difficult to carry physically, including 8 brushes, pens and pencils ranging from chisel markers to charcoal, along with 16 color palettes created by award-winning New York graphic designers, MTWTF.
- Collage – with the sophisticated platform of Journal, creating mixed-media work is easier than ever, being able to use and organize thousands of photos.
- Notes – along with a calendar, notebook, grid and task list template, Journal allows users to make writing easy and legible, combining the digital medium with the physical sensation of writing.